Survival Guide For Moving With A Toddler

survival guide for moving with a toddler

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Moving with a toddler takes more thought and preparation. Their life as they know it will be turned upside down. The unpredictability of change can be very scary for our little humans.

Luckily, kids are resilient. At that age, they adjust better to change than during the adult years. Moving will feel scary at first, but supporting them through this change, it can also be a fun and exciting experience. Use the guide to make moving with a toddler easier for both you and them.

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Is Moving Stressful For Toddlers?

Let’s be honest, moving is stressful for everyone, toddlers and adults alike. The reason behind it is very different though and it’s important to understand that their worries are different from yours but still very valid.

Toddlers thrive on routine and predictability. They have very little control over their environment at that age, so when major changes happen, it can feel pretty scary.

There are ways though that you can prepare them for a move to ease the experience. The trick is making the process as predictable as possible. This means visuals (pictures, seeing the place ahead of time, recorded videos of the home to watch together). You can tell stories about what the new home will be like, or ask them what they want to buy for their room. In our case, Luca was transitioning into a toddler bed and he had a picture of the bed he’s getting in his new bedroom.

Most likely your toddler will still be anxious and even sad over moving homes. Be sure to give them the space to process those feelings without judgment. It’s totally normal to feel the loss over change, especially when it wasn’t their choice. This doesn’t mean you are making the wrong decision. It’s the reality of life.

And that’s OK.

Not sure what to say when your toddler is feeling upset about the move? Use these 60 Positive Phrases Examples to help support your little one through difficult times!


    10 Tips To Prepare Your Toddler For The Move

    10 Tips To Prepare Your Toddler For The Move

    Let’s look at some super helpful tips for families who are moving homes with their toddlers. Remember it’s all about creating predictability for them so they know what to expect.

    #1 Advance Notice. 

    Tell them as soon as possible about the move it’s easy to push it back as to not deal with all the questions and emotions that follow.

    #2 Keep Your Calm. 

    In moments of uncertainty, our toddlers look at us to understand if the situation is safe or dangerous. The calmer you can be during this stressful time, the safer your toddler will feel as well.

    #3 What Will Be The Same And What Will Be Different. 

    Out occupational therapist suggested this and I absolutely love that idea. In the same conversation talk about what will be the same and what will be different. For example, “your room will a different color, but your bed will be the same”.

    #4 Draw Social Stories About The Move. 

    Grab a pen and paper and then start drawing the process of the move. Don’t overthink your drawing skills, that’s not the point. It’s about connecting with your toddler in a verbal and visual manner which makes it easier for them to take in the story. An example could be, “first we pack boxes, then the movers come and put boxes in truck, we all drive to the house, movers bring boxes into new home, we unpack as a family”.

    #5 Things To Look Forward To. 

    This goes for Everyone! We always need things to look forward to, but this is a great moment to explore various things that your toddler might be excited about. Maybe they’ll have a yard for the first time? Or your new home is closer to their friend’s home? In our case it was all about the new big boy tent bed he was getting, and that he now had his own bathroom.

    Feel supported in your move by referencing this guide.

    Download includes the 10 Tips For Moving With A Toddler, as well as the 5 Tips For Helping Your Toddler Transition To A New Home.

    Want something extra? When downloading this copy, you also receive 9 Cute Affirmation Cards for Toddlers (for free!!!)

    #6 Be Strategic About When You Pack. 

    Packing might be the trickiest part of moving. Our toddler was very dysregulated by us taking everything down from shelves. We did most of it when he was not home, or sleeping.

    I highly recommend hiring a moving company as well. You have enough on your hands. Companies like Bluebell Relocation Services will do all the heavy lifting for you. This was a lifesaver for us when we recently moved.

    #7 Have A Toy Box Available. 

    Definitely pack their things as late as possible. There is always the inevitable toy they absolutely needed but is hidden in a box. It’s probably also a toy he hasn’t cared for in months. Now it’s essential, which is all related to anxiety around the move. What worked for us is having one big box with toys he can grab anything from. This gave him access to some toys and gave him agency over his things.

    #8 Count The Nights. 

    Create a visual calendar of how many nights are left before the move. Let them cross off each day in the morning during breakfast. We did this and it was great! I’d start about 2 weeks earlier, not more. Their attention span is short and if the transition of moving takes too long per the calendar it can add to the stress.

    #9 Furnish In A Familiar Way. 

    Plan to keep furniture in similar set-ups when possible to make the new home feel more familiar. This is extra helpful for highly anxious kids. A few examples of similar set-ups are: same curtains, same carpet and couch combo, his chair is still in the same place at the table, etc. Same bedding.

    #10 Mentally Prepare Yourself For A Cranky Toddler. 

    Be extra patient with your toddler as they will probably be crankier and less flexible a few months before and after the move. This is a big deal for them and can be energy draining, leaving little left to behave. Knowing that moving will make your toddler extra emotional can help reduce the stress of dealing with their meltdown and tantrums.

    How Long Does It Take For Toddlers To Adjust Into Their New Home?

    One month is a good estimate for how long it will take for your toddler to adjust to their new home. Be patient with your toddler during this time as they might experience more moodiness and irritability during the adjustment period.

    There is a big range of normal and many factors affect their ability to transition. This includes their predisposition for flexible thinking, their attachment style to you as their main caregiver, and how BIG of a change this move has been for them. For example, moving from NJ to NY is different than moving across the Atlantic.

    5 Tips For Helping Your Toddler Transition To Their New Home

    #1 Keep Routine Predictable. 

    With a lot of change in one area of their life, it is very helpful to keep other areas super predictable. Keep the same morning routine, have the same breakfast. Maybe look at the same shows, whatever you can do to keep life as familiar as possible during the transition.

    #2 Talk About The Old Home. 

    It’s great to talk about the old home sometimes. This can help them process the loss of their precious home and allows you insight into how they are feeling. You can ask them if they ever think about their old home, ask if they want to see it again, anything to normalize the experience.

    #3. Let Them Make Some Design Choices. 

    Maybe they can choose what toys go where in the bedroom, or let them choose between two acceptable options when furnishing the new home. This can create moments of fun that they’ll remember for years to come.

    #4. Make The First Morning Breakfast Special. 

    Although predictability and routine will help your toddler feel safe and calm, it can be fun to find opportunities for celebratory moments in the beginning for example my husband went to get donuts in the morning for everyone it made it all extra fun.

    #5 Invites Friends And Family Over. 

    Somehow having people my toddler enjoyed come over to see the new place made the move more “real” and allowed him to accept it. They can get really excited by showing their new room and possible playroom. Letting them be the tour guide gives them agency and allows them to feel ownership.

    Moving Can Be Fun Too

    Taking the time to learn how to best support your toddler during a move can make the whole experience easier on both you and them, (because they will be easier to manage).

    When moving with a toddler, there are many actionable steps you can take to make the process more predictable for them. Helping your toddler through difficult transitions, can strengthen your relationship and form a rock-solid bond for years to come.

    Download your copy of 10 Tips To Prepare Your Toddler For The Move + 5 Tips For Helping Your Toddler Transition To Their New Home

    Feel supported in your move by referencing this guide.

    Download includes the 10 Tips For Moving With A Toddler, as well as the 5 Tips For Helping Your Toddler Transition To A New Home.

    Want something extra? When downloading this copy, you also receive 9 Cute Affirmation Cards for Toddlers (for free!!!)

    Share with a Friend!